A new task force created by President Donald Trump to investigate voter fraud has asked Colorado’s secretary of state to turn over personal information about the state’s voters, including addresses, party affiliation and voting history, according to a letter obtained by The Colorado Independent.
Dated June 28, here is part of the letter, signed by Kris Kobach, vice chair of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, to Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams:
I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly available voter roll data for Colorado, including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.
“Please be aware that any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public,” the letter reads.
Williams says he will not be turning over the last four Social Security digits of voters because they are not currently public information in Colorado. Full dates of birth also are not public, just the year. But he will be turning over what’s public, just like he would if anyone asked, he said.
The Kobach letter says Williams can send that information electronically to an email address maintained by the Election Integrity commission or through a secure federal site. He gave Williams a July 14 deadline. Kobach is the GOP secretary of state in Kansas and a former Republican Party chairman.
Williams, a Republican from El Paso County who was formerly a county elections clerk, says he will opt to use the secure federal system. He says he doesn’t plan to cough up personal identifying information of voters to the task force unless it’s already available to the public.
“All they have asked for is public information and that’s what we’ll provide them,” Williams told The Colorado Independent.
The letter also asks state elections officials for their own take on what new federal laws or policies the commission should consider. Williams said he would recommend more states be involved in an organization called the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, like Colorado is.
Kobach also asked for evidence or information about voter fraud in Colorado.
Williams says he plans to mention recent petition fraud uncovered last year and also the voter fraud charges against former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steven Curtis who was accused in March of forging his wife’s ballot. He also mentioned “some instances before Colorado used the ERIC and Social Security death indexes where some voters who had passed away voted.” It should be noted that dead voters can’t actually vote. He also said he knows of an instance of someone pleading guilty to voting in Kansas and Colorado.
“It’s rare but we work very hard to followup on instances to prosecute where appropriate,” Williams says of voter fraud in Colorado.
Williams said he appreciates Kobach’s efforts to gather facts from states likes Colorado and ask state election officials for their input instead of just telling them what they plan to do.
Not everyone feels that way.
In California, the state’s Democratic secretary of state Alex Padilla said he would not comply. “California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach,” he said. In Virginia, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he has “no intention of honoring this request.” McAuliffe said the “entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November.” Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, declined to comment for this story through a spokesperson. Kentucky’s Democratic secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, rejected the Kobach request.
The national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is urging state secretaries to “refuse cooperation.”
National election law expert Rick Hasen raised privacy concerns about the national voter-file dragnet on his blog, asking, “Will it be used by the Trump campaign and other political officials for political purposes? How secure will this be?” He also wrote this, which is worth repeating: “If a commission headed by the most left-wing secretary of state in the U.S. and directed by President Obama had requested this voter information from every state, it is easy to see what the reaction would be.”
Closer to home, Denise Maes, the public policy director for the ACLU of Colorado, says she’s concerned voters or potential voters merely hearing about their information ending up in some federal database could give them pause about taking part in the electoral process. She worries that could be an underlying point of the whole effort.
“Colorado’s secretary of state should not willingly participate in a politically-motivated federal campaign to intimidate voters and suppress the vote,” she says.
According to The Kansas City Star, Kobach “has championed some of the strictest voting laws in the country during his tenure as secretary of state.” And last week, “a federal judge fined him $1,000 for making ‘patently misleading representations’ about documents he took to a November meeting with Trump that relate to federal voting law as part of an ongoing voting rights case.”
In-person voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States. Trump has said he believes millions voted illegally in the 2016 elections, allegations that are unfounded.
Read the letter in full HERE.
Williams has called Colorado’s election system one that should be the envy of the nation.